Head Coach Greg Richards has been the boys’ basketball coach for 17 years, compiling 220 wins and three straight FAVC league championships from 2005-2007 to go along with three “Coach of the Year” awards in those years. As a MHS athlete, he graduated in 1977, and was inducted in the Mason Hall of Fame in 2002. Coach Richards, welcome to the HOT SEAT.
If you could describe your coaching career in Mason around one word, what would it be?
Awesome. That’s it.
What is your normal Friday night home game routine?
Right after school on Friday, I go right over to the middle school and put the scouting report on the board. After, I run home get ready; get my cup of coffee, head back to school and that’s about it. I do like to sit on the bench for the JV game and see if I can pick up anything else that we missed but that’s about it.
Do you think that coffee is like your pre-game ritual?
I guess. (laughing) I guess the coffee gets me going.
Describe home games in the arena, almost like a college setting wouldn’t you say?
Yeah, I mean the students bring great energy to the games and I think that helps our guys tremendously. The atmosphere is fantastic, and the black hole, the students and even the parents create a great atmosphere.
Have you even broken one of your loafers on the ground from stomping so hard on the wood floor?
Not yet. (laughing) I guess I got a sturdy pair of shoes but it’s something that I really don’t even know I do, it’s natural. Then again with the atmosphere and the noise, sometimes it’s hard for the guys to hear my voice so a stomp is a thing where I can get their attention.
Growing up, what were some coaches that really inspired you?
You have to go back to Coach Ken Gray. I was born and raised in Mason and Coach Gray was my varsity baseball coach at the time, shows how long he has been coaching here because I graduated in 1977. Obviously he was one of my high school coaches; I really looked up to him as well as Gary Popplewell, who was my coach as well. They set the tone pretty much. Also growing up, my dad was a baseball coach; he is the one who really laid the foundation for me.
Any college or professional coaches?
To be honest, I was always a big Bobby Knight fan, growing up. You know that’s when IU was really good and went undefeated, I thought he got the most out of his kids. Some of his tyrants were a little too much but other than that, I thought he got the most out of his players and that’s what I liked about him.
If you had to choose between Zach Brown and Carl Richburg, who would it be?
That’s not fair (laughing), I don’t think I can answer that question (laughing). They are two different style of players but both were phenomenal players though. I think Carl set that precedent for Mason point guards for a while, then after him, I think Zach saw him growing up and realized that’s what he wanted to do and be the player that Carl was.
Describe your baseball career.
I played at Austin Peay University and was signed by the Montreal Expos. After that, I played three years of minor league baseball and then realized when I got done; I wanted to be a coach and a teacher.
How has your baseball career helped you as a coach, I know they’re two different sports but how has it affected your coaching style?
I think no matter what you play, as long as its competition, it’s going to help you later on in life in whatever you do, whether it’s being a coach or being a businessman. With that being said, I saw what I did in college and the levels I had to go through. Even in the minor leagues, playing against people who maybe had signed for more money or things like that, were obstacles that I had to battle and overcome to make myself as good as I could be. When I did that, I realized that’s what I wanted to do later in coaching. I wanted it for kids to not just play the game of basketball, baseball or football but the challenge of competing for the rest of your life.
If Coach Gray wasn’t coaching baseball at the time do you think you would have gone down the baseball path?
I’m not sure, I had a passion for all sports coming out of high school and I probably liked basketball out of any of them, but baseball seemed to be what I had the best talent in.
What is something on your “bucket list” or something you really want to do when you’re done coaching?
I really don’t think of it much. I try to take one day at a time and just don’t know how much longer I’m going to be doing this. So I just have to take it year by year and see what goes on and if it’s time to give it up then who knows what I’ll do.
How much has it meant to you coaching in Mason for your 17 years?
You know like I said before when you gave me one word to describe, it has been awesome and just giving back to the community is important. Seeing a lot of guys who coached under me, like Coach [Casey] Popplewell, Coach [Kurt] Bly , Coach Kerr and Coach [Andy] Keimer, makes me very proud that they have moved on to their own coaching careers. It really means a lot to me.Interview by James Nosek